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Diego Cortez, Achieving Childhood Dreams through ACE Cleveland

Recipient of $60,000+, including the $40,000 ACE National CMiC Allen Berg Scholarship

“With my experience in ACE I believe that I will achieve my goals. I don't want to go to college just because someone told me to. I want to go because it's part of my long-term plan. After college, I plan to become a Construction Manager for a large construction firm so I can be involved in something big and eventually start my own construction firm in Northeast Ohio.”

Watching his father as a drywall laborer, Diego developed a strong work ethic and passion for the construction industry at a young age. Entering the ACE Mentorship Program at John Hay gave Diego the resources to explore all aspects of the A.E.C industries first-hand. The encouragement and support from his ACE mentors helped him determine construction management was the best career path for him.

ACE allowed Diego to secure several scholarships to pursue Construction Management at Kent State University. Diego was a recipient of the ACE National 2020 CMiC – Allen Berg Memorial Scholarship. The CMiC – Allen Berg Memorial Scholarships are multi-year awards aimed at talented, deserving ACE high school seniors. Through the ACE scholarship efforts, Diego was awarded $40,000 from ACE Mentor National/CMIC, $10,000 from ACE Mentor Cleveland and $10,000 from Kent State University to follow his childhood dream and attend Kent State University for Construction Management.

Once his college career is complete, Kent State University has a 100% rate of job placement. In addition to KSU’s job placement success rate, Diego is well-connected with industry professionals at some of the top firm’s through his involvement in ACE. In the future, Diego looks forward to mentoring individuals in the same situation, so they can become first-generation college graduates.

In his free time, Diego volunteers at the local food banks, a book collection center and participates with his Church youth group. He looks forward to making a big impact on the Cleveland community thanks to his resources from ACE. Someday he hopes to have his own construction firm and give back to the Cleveland community by creating jobs for families and building affordable housing.

What would you consider to be your greatest accomplishments to date? What are you most proud of? Being part of ACE and getting networking in at a young age. At first, I was thinking of studying Architecture but after discovering Construction Management from my ACE Mentors (especially Jason Ohlsson who allowed me to shadow him and see what it’s like being a construction manager for a day) I decided construction is what I am passionate about. I like being at the job sites, meeting with people who are working at the sites, seeing the projects through from start to finish, and watching out for everyone’s safety along the way.

Who inspires/motivates you? My dad, he left his family in Mexico to give his children a better life. I feel like I need to grow up and repay him for doing that for me.

What are your career and personal aspirations for the future? I would like to go into construction management like my father, but take it a couple of steps further. I like working in the field and meeting new people and seeing how I can make contributions. It was a really enjoyable experience helping my father with his drywall business and taking estimates. It could have been simply an empty lot and they were developing a skyscraper there.

What advice would you give to someone considering getting involved in ACE for the first time? If you are serious about what you want to do ACE will help you, the mentors have been down the same path you want to go down. They always get back to you with answers to your questions and shadowing is priceless.

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